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The views on the subject of revivals of religion, which pervade this volume, are such as the author believes he has received from the Bible, and has had confirmed by an experience in the ministry of more than thirty-four years.
When describing scenes in which I myself have been concerned, I have used the pronoun in the first person singular. On this subject I fully agree with Dr. Dwight, former president of Yale College.
“ Dr. Dwight,” said an inquirer, “is it not better for a minister, when speaking of himself, to say 'we,' rather than "I?'
“I think not," answered the doctor.
“ Ah, well,” said Dr. Dwight, “I would rather have egotism than wegotism."
THE WESTERN SKETCH-BOOK.
I STOOD on the bank of the Mississippi, and gazed upon the rush of its mighty stream. Wave pressed on wave; and the broad tide, with a force that no earthly power could withstand, swept onward to the
“Great river!" I exclaimed, “hast thou rolled on thus from age to age ? Hast thou maintained this majestic march through the lapse of more than fifty centuries? Then what is the history of this immense country on thy borders ? What people gazed upon thy stream three thousand years ago? Were there then intellectual beings here, to adore that mighty God who dug thy deep channel, and spread out at thy side these broad, fertile plains, and covered thee with the bright blue heaven?” Such were the questions that arose in my mind; but there was none to answer. I looked back on the past history of the west. But, beyond the period of sixty or seventy years, there sets in a thick, impenetrable darkness - "even darkness which may be felt ;” and all is, to us, buried in the gulf of hopeless oblivion. Events that transpired then, however interesting they may have been, are irrecoverably lost: no effort of ours can call them back, or secure for them a record on the
memory. Another question arose : Will the man who stands where I stand now, a hundred or a thousand years hence, experience the same desire to know the early history of the mighty west, of which I now am conscious ? The answer is clear: He will. Then I am resolved to “gather up the fragments,” not already lost, of the history of the west, and preserve them, —
“ That ages yet unborn may read,
And trust and praise the Lord.” The west is, as yet, only an infant. But this infant possesses the elements of a fearful and stupendous growth. Ere long, the inhabitants of the world will open their eyes, and with astonishment behold a giant standing here. His height will be terrible, and his power such, that earth's foundations will bend beneath his footsteps; and at the listing of his hand distant nations will tremble.
Yes, the teeming millions of a crowded population will soon spread over this wide and wonderful region. The banks of these long rivers will be studded with “cloud-capt towers and gorgeous palaces ;” and religion, und education, and science, and cultivated society will be here, to an extent that earth has not witnessed in ages that are gone. In that day, the mighty population of the west will eagerly inquire after the early history of their country.
I have determined, therefore, to gather up the facts within the period of my own memory, and arrange them, and dedicate the record to the generations following. A larger work, entitled “ The Early Religious History of the West,” which the author has for
years been preparing, is more particularly referred to, than the mere sketches contained in the present volume.